For divorcing parents, child support and custody are primary concerns.
You can spend as much time as you want with your child now, but after a divorce, not only will that time be lessened, but you may also have to pay your former spouse for their care as well.
It can feel utterly unfair and depressing, but understanding the process can make it much less difficult. You can prepare mentally for it now.
How California courts determine child support
Child support laws are state laws, and they reflect that each parent has a financial responsibility to pay for their child’s needs. To that end, the family law judge takes into account this responsibility, factors in both parent’s respective income levels and the amount of time each parent physically cares for the child according to the parenting plan.
This is why you and the other parent will fill out the Income and Expense Declaration form, which includes proof of your income. It also includes a certification in which you acknowledge that lying qualifies as perjury.
The child support formula
Once the judge has a baseline for income and parental time, the judge uses the child support formula to calculate child support. The judge calculates each parent’s net disposable income, which is takes out taxes, union dues, mandatory retirement contributions, healthcare, other child and spousal support, and the costs associated with raising children from another relationship.
Remember, your income calculations do not include just your paycheck. They include tips, overtime, bonuses, income from property, commissions, state and federal benefits, dividend stocks, lottery and gambling winnings, and more.
A California child support calculator is available online to give you an idea of your potential responsibility.
Keep in mind, even if there is a child support order, if you have a change in circumstances, you can ask for it to be modified. A family law attorney may be able to get a better estimation and inform you of your options.